Nothing Rhymes with Ngapartji

From the website for the new film Nothing Rhymes with Ngapartji, which has just had its first screening in Alice Springs:

Nothing Rhymes with Ngapartji, follows the journey of acclaimed Pitjantjatjara actor, Trevor Jamieson, as he returns to his traditional country to perform his hit theatre show – Ngapartji Ngapartji – to an all-Indigenous audience, in the remote Australian aboriginal community of Ernabella, South Australia.

Trevor has struggled to hold onto language and culture while living away from his traditional country. Ngapartji Ngapartji is a live theatre performance in two languages. But usually the audience is fluent in English not Pitjantjatjara. 2500km from the recent 5 weeks sell-out Sydney Festival season, against the magnificent backdrop of Australia’s central desert Trevor is preparing to face his toughest audience yet.

The film follows the Ngapartji Ngapartji team’s journey to Ernabella and performance of their acclaimed show in situ. It is terrible timing for Trevor; whose father, a central character in the stage show, passed away only weeks before. Not only does Trevor have to confront his grief in order to deliver the performance, in doing so he has to grapple with the decision to risk breaking traditional law by saying his father’s name, acting the part of him, and showing footage of him as part of the show. Is Trevor going to get a knock on the head?

Trevor’s family story is one of struggle & survival. Beginning in the 1950’s Trevor’s grandfather witnessed British atomic testing spread sickness throughout his land; the performance follows three generations of an Aboriginal family as they grapple with becoming refugees in their own country.

Elders in Ernabella have their own memories of the Maralinga bombs, and Trevor knows that the Ngapartji Ngapartji show will be a potent reminder of what people have not talked about for a long time.

As excitement builds amongst the company and the community about performing for an indigenous audience in Ernabella, so too the trepidation builds in Trevor, as he fears the consequences of performing a story so close to his own heart.

Will Trevor’s resolve be his own undoing? We find out.

Video Link: Nothing Rhymes with Ngapartji from alex kelly on Vimeo.

My thanks to James Waites for the news of the film’s debut; James has written extensively about Ngapartji Ngapartji over the show’s lifetime.

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